Spring Game Roundup: Jacob Coker, Mike Bobo and More

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Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker may have been the single most examined player in any college football spring game, and he delivered under the microscope with what was described as the best performance of any of the five vying for the Crimson Tide’s vacant starting job.

“You’re going to look at this and say, ‘Well, these two guys played better,'” Nick Saban said of Jacob Coker and Alec Morris, per John Zenor of the Associated Press. Of course, in truly Saban’ian fashion, he immediately downplayed the praise.

“They had a much better opportunity [by playing with the first team]. We lost a lot of players on offense. We don’t have a lot of depth on offense right now, so it really affects the second unit a lot more than it does the first, especially when you have a few guys that are injured.”

If there’s anyone on the Alabama roster who needs praise downplayed, it’s Jacob Coker. From the moment he announced his transfer from Florida State and intention to play for the Crimson Tide, Coker’s been hyped at an unrealistic level.

More of the same could be on the way after a decent-but-not-great A-Day Game — Jacob Coker was 14-of-28 Saturday.

Auburn Tigers

Auburn’s offense is undergoing a facelift this offseason, replacing quarterback Nick Marshall, running back Cameron Artis-Payne and wide receiver Sammie Coates.

In a fashion befitting a Gus Malzahn-coached team, however, the Tigers have a new crop of offensive talent ready to flourish. Running back Roc Thomas starred on Saturday, forming the lightning portion of a thunder-lightning backfield with Jovon Robinson, as Sporting News‘ Justin Ferguson describes it.

Per Ferguson, Thomas certainly seems to grasp the ethos of a Malzahn offense:

“Just getting back to Auburn football — making long runs down the field, coming up the line and running it again,” Thomas said.

Colorado State Rams

Listen closely and you can practically hear the howls coming from Georgia following Mike Bobo’s public debut as Colorado State head coach.

“Run the dang ball, Bobo!”

The former Georgia offensive coordinator plans to build a power-run offense at Colorado State, but Kelly Lyell of The Coloradoan reports that the Rams were flinging the pass around the field in their spring game.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

“We really wanted to center this game, particularly in the first half, around the quarterbacks, and really wanted to put them in a position where they could utilize their skill set,” Brian Kelly told USA Today after Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold Spring Game. “And I thought we did that.”

Indeed, the Fighting Irish’s nationally televised spring game showcased both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire, and did nothing to clarify who will lead the Notre Dame offense come September.

But the, does Kelly really have to tab just one quarterback? I posited at Today’s U. that Notre Dame could make the much maligned two-quarterback system work.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is a great fit for Pittsburgh football, at least philosophically.

Panthers fans seemingly embrace the program’s seventh head coach in the last half-decade, as a good crowd came out for Pittsburgh’s spring game.

Part of the buzz around Pittsburgh football has to come from the return of Heisman Trophy candidate running back James Conner, and stud wide receiver Tyler Boyd (pictured below).

SMU Mustangs

SMU’s first spring game under Chad Morris was remarkable in that it was the program’s first spring game at all in eight years. June Jones didn’t believe in spring games, as E.J. Holland of the Dallas Morning News writes, but Morris used it as a public introduction of the new-look Mustangs.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones’ nickname is 12-Gauge, but he could really be called Howitzer. Just look at this cannon blast of 74 yards from the defending national champion’s spring game:

The best part? Jones’ reply to Big Ten Network:

Not to be outdone, Ohio State teammate Stephen Collier hooked up with wide receiver Terry McLaurin for a beautiful touchdown. Is the Buckeyes’ quarterback race about to swell to four players?!

But the play of the day in the Big Ten goes to Penn State’s Nick Scott, whose touchdown run was taken straight from the Tecmo Bowl version of Bo Jackson’s playbook.


Scott has competition from out west, where Oregon State freshman Seth Collins went Vince Carter-on-Federic Weis over a would-be tackler.

Oregon State is looking to replace four-year starter Sean Mannion in head coach Gary Andersen’s debut campaign. If Collins continues to make plays like that, perhaps he’ll be the successor to the most prolific passer in Pac-12 history.